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July 17 • Next Up

Day 739 I heard an affirmation in a meeting this morning that I thought was clever and significant. It was the second time in two days I had heard this quoted, and both times it was said as if it was 'a thing' in the program that I had somehow missed, So I Googled it. "Do the next right thing." Don't I feel like a caveman! Apparently, I'm the only one on the planet that has never used that phrase, including most of the world's children, thanks to a song by that title in Disney's classic Frozen franchise. Nonetheless, I hereby confess my sins of cliched ignorance and embrace these simple five words as a new tool in the fight against my addict. When I've screwed up, whether it's years of acting out or a momentary slip in picking the wrong fast-food restaurant for the family, my addict would require me to think about all the other stupid things I've done and just wallow around in that shame shadow for a while. My inability to shake the smallest of infractions — at least those seen by others — was ridiculous. I now believe that it was this practice of jumping into the pit of despair over silly things that made it seem normal when I started practicing my sexual addiction out loud. It was my addict that used every one of these opportunities to tell me I was useless, that I deserved the feelings that clutched at me from the darkness. I always thought it was my girlfriend, or my wife, or even my Higher Power. It was also my addict that would show me the way out of the hole, and the way to the corner pain-relief store. But instead of helping me out of the collapsing hole, his instructions would have me digging deeper and wider, looking for the other side or maybe an elevator shaft going up. His recommended dosage of pain-relief was the cocaine of the soul, and it was never enough to do anything but make the hurt worse. Back to my new favorite phrase... Why didn't I ever hear anyone say, do the next right thing before? I'm sure it's been said in a thousand different ways, and the audio waves went in one ear and out the other. Why didn't it ever dawn on me to just admit to whatever life-altering mistake I had committed and move on to the next challenge or the next simple task? Is my addiction so powerful that it could close my ears, mind, and heart to such life-saving simplicity? Apparently. I'm stunned. Whether I can now turn this new-found instruction into a shame-smasher remains to be seen, but I am delightfully aware of a new morsel of freedom that says I'm going to give it a try. I'm flabbergasted at the newness of this well-worn set of smart words. When someone in today's meeting asked about some practical advice on living this attitude, a fellow offered the following as light in the process. I'm trying to find out whether he wrote this or saw it on a poster in Walmart, but it's very good, so I'll share it here pending more information on its origins: Living in the Solution Live in peace, not in confusion.
Live in acceptance, not in shame.
Live in commitment, not in false hope.
Live in the present, not in the past or the future.
Live in giving back, not in always taking.
Live in courage, not in fear.
Live in the journey, not in the destination.
Live in hope, not in despair.
Live in love, not in death.
Live in the solution, not the problem. I can do this, one day at a time. Most days, I can do this. –JR P.S. It turns out that the above, "Living in the Solution," was written during the meeting as the author listened to the comments and shares from the group. Thank you Tony A. for allowing me to share this here! Take a step, step again It is all that I can to do The next right thing I won't look too far ahead It's too much for me to take But break it down to this next breath, this next step This next choice is one that I can make –Kristen Bell, “The Next Right Thing”

July 17 • Next Up
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